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Question
Posted by: Felicity | 2012-11-19

I think she needs serious help

Hi,
My boyfriends daughter is 18 years old,she lost her mom to cancer 3 years ago,when her mom was in ICU she refused to go in and see her and only went in the day she passed away. I started dating her dad 6 months later,she was not very happy about it but seemed to come around. For the last two years we have been living together and things were great until January this year,she stopped talking to me and ignores me totally. If I walk into a room she walks out,she slams doors behind me and degrades me with nasty sms''s to her dad. Recently she attacked me when I tried to speak to her to find out what I have done wrong seeing as I am been treated badly for 11 months I however never raised my voice or touched her. Last week she ran the hot water and emptied the geyser which meant my daughter had a cold shower,when asked if she enjoys doing what she does (which is nasty) she went crazy swearing and shouting and demanding we leave her house thats why she does what she does. Her sms''s to her dad are more like a sms from a jealous ex-girlfriend I have red them and cringe. She has been to a Psycologist but only went twice because the woman was clearly not saying what she wanted to hear. I really think she needs help I am just worried that one day she is going to loose the plot again and really hurt someone without even knowing it and unfortunatly that someone will either be me,my daugher or my mother. Is she old enough to refuse any form of help?

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Our expert says:
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At one level it seems pretty obvious where the problem starts. It IS very early indeed for a bereaved widower to start going out with a new gf only 6 months after his wife's death, and early to start living together only a year later. Whatever his actual feelings, to many people, and apparently very much so to his daughter, this suggests that he hardly loved his wife / her mother, and was keen to move on to someone else.
It sounds as though she strongly resents you and your daughter having as she may see it, taken over her dad, taken over the family home, disrespected her mom, and pushed her to the outskirts.
At 18 she is indeed old enough to refuse treatment she does not want.
And its probably a mistake to see her as the total embodiment of the problem, as someone needing to be fixed. That's not so. The family as it now stands is not well, and dysfunctional, and it is the family and its internal structures, expectations, behaviours, and rules, that need to be fixed. I'd think that trying to force the girl to accept "therapy" as though she has to be the only person in the wrong, and disordered, will be likely to fail. Suggesting that you;re none of you happy as things are and need to negotiate a better way of living together by having shared family therapy from a properly trained psychologist, is much more likely to work.
Like Liza, I'm struck by the invisibility of the father in your story - its his responsibility to play an active and understanding role in trying to sort this out, as it was his choices which started this all off. He can't wash his hands of it.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Gail | 2012-11-21

Having dealt with two stepchildren (my husband had custody) and an ex-wife (who wanted the divorce as she was having an affair), reading the comments brought back the years of pain. In my case, the ex-wife was badmouthing myself and my husband with the children. Luckily, only the one fell for all the lies, but it cost us a lot of pain, anguish and lost time as a family unit. Now, at the age of 31, he has finally gone for the therapy which I have been fighting for since he was 11 and it has helped him get over the pain of the divorce, the rejection (his mom not wanting custody) and the lies which had our family split. He has now apologised for all the hurtful things he did and said to me (and to his father) and our family unit is finally healing the wounds of the past. If you love this man and you really want this family to succeed, I suggest you all go for therapy now. Your stepdaughter needs more intensive therapy as she needs to deal with the loss of her mom as well as the extreme changes her life has undergone. Don''t give up on her - my worst time with my stepson was around this age too. She is considered " adult"  but in fact is still just a child who is now in the crossroads of her life. She still has to figure out who she is and what she wants. The hand life has dealt her has not been an easy one so be patient with her. BUT get her father into the programme in a big way! I agree with the person who said the father mustn''t spoil the child out of guilt - that was one of the biggest mistakes my husband and his ex made. You need his commitment as well and if he is not prepared to give the family his support, then it is time to cut your losses and move on with your life.

Reply to Gail
Posted by: William | 2012-11-21

It''s very complicated especially if your lover is not going to take a stand and discipline her daughter. otherwise i would suggest that you get your own place and continue with the relationship she will eventually come around.

Reply to William
Posted by: Debbie | 2012-11-21

Everyone needs different amounts of time to grieve. If your BF moved on in 6 months, that is his right and no-one else''s business. Men tend to need someone new far sooner than women His daughter obviously needed more time to grieve and saw your presence (or his father''s need for you) as an insult to her mother''s memory, which it obviously was not. Then you moving in lock stock and barrel with your daughter and mother just became too much. At 18 she is considered an adult, but most 18 year olds are still pretty immature. The problem is that no-one seems to be the mature person in this situation. It doesnt help for her father to have screaming matches with her, but still entertain her sms''s and behaviour. She needs parameters and guidelines. If she oversteps the boundaries, she must be shown that this is unacceptable. I guess she is still at school so she will be around for at least another year, I guess. Family therapy would probably help, but she does need to know that she either attends together with the family or will have priveleges revoked - and that rule must be stuck to no matter what. Most important, though, is for you to realise that you are not in competition with her for your BF''s attention. Stop keeping score. If she spends 4 hours with her dad when you only got 3 hours, so what. She is his daughter and entitled to time with her dad. Allow her the latitude to get some exclusive time with him, but in the family situation, she needs to be part of the family. Ignore her childish behaviour (one-upmanship) and be the adult. Dont yell at her and treat her with respect, even if she wont reciprocate. Do some special things for her. Offer to take her clothes shopping. Bring up her mother in conversation and show interest and respect. Encourage the memory. She sees you as a threat. You need to show her that you are not one. It will take time and patience. Is the relationship worth it? If so, then invest in it. If not, move out now and move on

Reply to Debbie
Posted by: Stephanie | 2012-11-21

I just feel that i need to respond to " parents should not allow their love life to damage their children" . I feel that if a girl is now 18, and will be starting her own life and probably maybe even her own family within 5 years. This girl needs to go and grow up a bit and realise you don''t always get what you want. I remained single for 11 years and my now husband for 10 after the split and we still had hell with the one teenager. He was kicked out of school for bad behaviour. Parents should definitely not spoil the child in an attempt to make up for a marriage that didn''t work, the result is a train wreck for a teenager. Men find it hard to be alone once they have been in a longterm committed relationship or loose their wife. I have seen this alot over the years, its just the way they are wired. Woman are different. I agree that this woman should move out and ignore the girl completely and block her number as well as on any social media, that way sending a strong message that its not okay to behave like that. Continue the relationship and just ignore the girl and don''t let her annoy you. If you ignore her and she doesn''t get a reaction, she will get bored and maybe get a life of her own. Parents have a right to a life, and their children need to be less selfish because they aren''t their when there parents are lonely and pinning for company. I would never refuse my mother anything that give her comfort, i wasn''t raised to be selfcentered and selfish!! THat girl is selfish period!! I should know i was a stepchild myself. No excuse for bad behaviour!!

Reply to Stephanie
Posted by: Dorothy | 2012-11-21

I love the expert''s reply, it is very spot on. Thank you. Parents should not allow their love life to damage their children.

Reply to Dorothy
Posted by: Lalie | 2012-11-21

I understand completely... II am in the same boat. But unfortunate I have the stepdaughter and the mother on my case. It will never ever end! They have been divorced for 5 years and we have been dating for 3years. Cut her out of your life and move on. She will get a wake up one day. Remember: you are an adult and she is a child... If you love each other then the two of you will sort it out. - Move out. Let her go on her own.. She will learn soon enough.

Reply to Lalie
Posted by: kIKI | 2012-11-21

I think that you all need to go for family counselling at maybe a place like FAMSA. Yes, I agree, I think the father got involved with another woman far too quickly. I myself am a widow and really couldn''t consider even a coffee date until almost 2 years later so how he was able to move on so quickly is beyond my thinking. I blame the father completely for this mess and he needs to take a look at himself and sort it out - pronto!! You''ve put up with enough and you are not showing yourself respect.

Reply to kIKI
Posted by: Rob | 2012-11-21

Move out. Get your own place. Continue with the relationship because you love him. Or are you just a leach who cant take care of herself?

Reply to Rob
Posted by: Stephanie | 2012-11-21

Just pack up and leave. I have done so and that sorted the discipline problem out in my house with my stepson. He was a problem child and ended up with me at 13, and tried his best to put me over the top. Since i am a rugby player, i took him to training and made him hold the takle bags for the forwards during tackle practice. I explained my problem to them, and since most of them have kids, they assisted in teaching the young man a bit of respect. There are many ways to skin a cat, and mine was to put the fear of God into a kid of 6ft2 and i am only 5ft bahahaha Sometime if they don''t respect you, a healthy dose of don''t mess with me does the trick hahahahaha Good luck hope you get it sorted...

Reply to Stephanie
Posted by: Felicity | 2012-11-19

You know I don''t actually know,I have heard him have screaming matches with her about his happiness and respect. I have however told him over and over again that she has no respect for him because of the way she treats him. Two good examples of what he does to keep her happy and keep the peace: Valentines Day I bought him a wallet two weeks later for his birthday she bought him a wallet needless to say mine is not being used,our anniversary I bought him a formal shirt a week later for fathers day she bought him 5 formal shirts,I cant even remember the last time he wore the one I bought him. It is like she feels it is a competition for his attention which really is not the case. If we have dinner and spend 3 hours being out she needs to have dinner with him and will make sure they come back 4 hours later........ I have very different views in discipline and if I talk to my kids what I say sticks no questions asked,according to him everyone disciplines in different ways however I dont think he does discipline at all just to keep the peace and I think due to that the situation has just got out of control.

Reply to Felicity
Posted by: Liza | 2012-11-19

Seems like both father and daughter simply do not have any respect for you. And yes - I include the father as being disrespectful. If ANY guy I dated ever entertained derogatory smses about me from his child, I''d leave him so quickly his head will spin. (I guess that''s why I''m single - LOL!)

Why oh why are you still tolerating this disrespect from both of them? Do you perhaps think that you deserve this abuse for some strange reason? Or do you perhaps prefer a spineless wimp for a partner who can''t control his own daughter?

Sheesh. I can just shake my head...

Liza

Reply to Liza
Posted by: Vanessa | 2012-11-19

It seems the problem comes from the father moving on too quickly after his wife''s death. His daughter obviously did not have time to mourn for her mum, before another woman was (in the daughters view) put in her house. You mention your daughter and mother - I assume your daughter is very young or of school going age and your mother is a dependant? It must be very hard for your boyfriends daughter to have all of these people taking over " her home" . it sounds as if she is acting out, because she feels threatened.
Perhaps, if you are actually wanting the relationship with your boyfriend to carry on, you should move into your own home. Generally a man will not choose another woman over his own child - and he should not be made to. 6 months is too short a time to bring someone else into your life after a bereavement, but to then have someone move into your family home, especially when there are children involved who have just lost their mum, is a recipe for disaster.

Reply to Vanessa
Posted by: Felicity | 2012-11-19

Her father does not have any form of rules set out,he would rather candy coat everything than face the problem and sort it out. Her sms''s are entertained by him with responses. She has told me that I have no respect for her mother which is an insult to me as I have not removed any of her mothers photo''s from the house and in the past when the mother was brought into conversations I listened and never once moaned about having to listen to happy memories of the past. I do understand loss so my aim was never to walk into the house and be her mother I just wanted to be her friend and be there when she needed someone to talk to. She was great with me in the past,birthday arrangements, matric dance sorting out I did my fair share to my best abilities for her. Her father is a atheist so for him if you dead you dead life moves on not that it means he never loved his wife,he stood by her through everything. He feels that his daughter needs to understand that he deserves to be happy and one day when she finds love she will not worry about him and move on with her life. This is not easy and not a nice lifestyle to live.

Reply to Felicity
Posted by: Liza | 2012-11-19

Where does her father stand in this situation? Is he taking sides or sitting on the fence? Is he tolerating her behavior or does he take her to task when she''s being unreasonable and rude? How does he respond to the nasty sms''s she sends him about you? Does he just ignore it? Or does he respond by telling her she''s being way out of line?

The truth is, unless her father tells her that her behavior is unacceptable and that there will be specific consequences if the behavior continues - there is nothing much you can do. He is the one who must set the boundaries and then enforce it by ALWAYS punishing her for misbehavior. If he let''s ANY misdemeanors slide, it only teaches her that he doesn''t mean what he said and she can behave how she wants.

Personally I''m not so sure that this girl needs psychological help. Sounds more like she needs some tough love to help her mature a little. (Although a psychologist could be enormous help when setting appropriate boundaries and punishments) Perhaps it could even be constructive to have a FAMILY counseling session, where everyone can raise issues in a mediated environment?

Good Luck
Liza

Reply to Liza

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